Why Jousting Is Maryland's Official State Sport

Maryland adopted jousting as its official state sport in 1962
Maryland adopted jousting as its official state sport in 1962 | © Flickr/MdAgDept

“Crab cakes and football — that’s what Maryland does.” This quote from Wedding Crashers (2005) simplified the mid-Atlantic state to a mere two things, yet Maryland does so much more, particularly when it comes to sports. Maryland became the first state to adopt an official sport, naming jousting as its official sport on June 1, 1962.
Henry J. Fowler, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from St. Mary’s County, introduced a bill during a session of the Maryland General Assembly to establish jousting as the official state sport. The bill passed both houses and was signed into law by Governor J. Millard Tawes.

According to the Maryland State Archives website, “jousting tournaments have been held in Maryland since early colonial times but became increasingly popular after the Civil War.”

The pageantry is not lost in modern-day tournaments. Men (referred to as knights) and women (referred to as maids) are dressed in colorful costumes full of regalia and many of the medieval customs and practices are still utilized. The Maryland State Jousting Championship is held annually and has been sponsored by the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association since its founding in 1950.
Jousting competitions, held in various locations throughout the state, are non-contact “ring tournaments” where competitors on horseback with lance in hand try to spear hanging rings of various sizes while quickly riding by three arches. Rings, ranging in diameter from one-quarter of an inch to approximately two inches, are hung nearly 7 feet off the ground.

These tournaments take place between May and October annually.

1. Distance between each arch is to be 30 yards.

2. Time will be called from a point 20 yards before the first arch and end at the last arch.

3. The total distance of 80 yards is to be covered in 10 seconds.

4. Time will be called with the use of an official stop watch held by the judges on the stand.

5. The height of the irons will be 6’9″ from the ground.

6. All rings will be wrapped with white cord.

7. Tournament sponsors are required to send a complete score card to the secretary of the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association.

8. After the 1950 season is completed, the following rules will prevail regarding the status of the rider.

Any Amateur rider scoring either 3 first places or 4 second places in tournaments shall
be considered a Professional Rider and must ride in the Professional Class thereafter.
Any rider winning one first place in a Novice or Rookie class will be considered an Amateur Rider thereafter.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article